14 Interesting Facts About Crocodiles (With Pictures)
Crocodiles are members of the Crocodylidae family and belong to the subfamily crocodylinae (biological name), which is also referred to as true crocodiles.
Crocodiles are giant reptiles that can get to 5.2metres (19ft) in size.
Where do crocodiles live? They are aquatic in nature, which means that they live in habitats like rivers, fresh water, lakes, and brackish water and could be seen all through the tropics area in continents like Americas, Asia, Australia, and Africa.
There are 14 species of crocodiles that have been recognized whose habitat depends on the tropical area and the water they live in.
For example, we have saltwater crocodile, which is the largest in size among crocodiles and even among all reptiles, could be seen in Asia and Australia. Nile crocodile is another kind of crocodile, which is also very big though not as big as the saltwater crocodile, can be seen in West Africa. See the full list of crocodile species below.
Crocodiles are amazing animals with interesting features and characteristics.
Here are 14 interesting facts about crocodiles you didn’t know before, which are fun too for kids:
1. History has it that crocodiles have been in existence since 240 million years ago.
2. Crocodiles sweat through their mouth. That is why they are normally seen in river bank areas with their mouth open. Having their mouth open isn’t for violence, but to chill off!
3. It takes crocodiles much energy and effort to open their jaw than to close it.
4. The adult crocodile has 24 sharp teeth per jaw, which are used for griping, tearing, and crushing food, but not for chewing. The teeth could be replaced as many times as 50 within 35 and 75 years. They sometimes swallow stones to ensure quicker grinding of the food in their abdomen.
5. How long do crocodiles live? Saltwater crocodiles can live 70 – 100 years while the Nile crocodiles can live up to 70 years and above.
6. What do crocodiles eat? Crocodiles are carnivores in feeding, which means that they eat the flesh of other animals. They wait for their prey to come close, and then rush in to attack and feed on them; crocodiles feed on fishes, birds, mammals, and other reptiles, including their young ones.
7. “Crocodile tears”, a widely used term in English language, which means somebody is shielding tears but in pretense, was gotten from crocodiles displaying false tears while eating their prey. The tears occur because during the process of eating, crocodiles swallow great amount of air, which gets to the glands that produce tears and force it to flow.
8. Crocodiles reproduce by laying as much as 20 to 75 eggs. January and February are usually months for mating; then in April or May the female crocodile will build a nest of loose dirt in a heap on the edge of water and lay her eggs. Between July and August the eggs are hatched, she will assist the babies called hatchling to the water and there after leaves them to care for themselves.
9. Leaving the hatchlings to care for themselves exposes them to being eaten by big fish and other animals, including adult crocodiles. For this reason, about 99% of baby crocodiles lose their lives before the age of one.
10. Crocodile embryos do not have sex chromosomes, what this means is that the sex of their babies are not predicted genetically, rather the factors that determine the sex of young crocodiles are the prevailing temperature and the kind of crocodile involved. This is how it works: when the temperature is less than 300 the eggs that hatch will be female; when the temperature is 310 the eggs will hatch both male and female babies, but when it is 320 – 330 the eggs more often hatch male offspring. However, in some species, contrary to the said rule female offspring are hatched when the temperature is high.
11. Crocodile skin is used in making bags, belts, and other accessories, which are usually expensive. The belly part of the crocodile’s skin is more expensive and treasured for its quality and tenderness than the back skin, which is tougher with bonny structure, used in making bulletproof and other valuable accessories.
12. The crocodile’s olfactory system (responsible for smelling) is properly developed; this enables the animal to perceive the smell of prey far or near. It can also be said that they use this medium to know when their eggs are due for hatching.
13. Crocodiles and alligators have striking resemblance, which makes them to be mistaken for the other by most people. However, to identify a crocodile from an alligator, observe that the fourth tooth on the lower jaw of the crocodile remains visible even when it closes its mouth, unlike in alligators, which has the tooth not showing when it closes its mouth.
14. Crocodiles have salty glands in their mouth, which makes them able to survive in sea water.
Species of Crocodiles
Crocodiles have 14 currently known species, they are:
1. American crocodile (Crocodylus acutus)This species of crocodile can be found across the Caribbean Basin, including South Florida and most of the Caribbean islands.
It’s of larger size with pronounced V-shaped snout.
It mostly inhabits brackish water and also loves marine environment and lower stretches of rivers.
2. Slender-snouted crocodile (Crocodylus cataphractus)
This can be found in Central and Western Africa.
It is of medium sized with an elongated and narrow snout.
This species inhabits fresh water environments of tropical forests.
It mostly eats fish, and sometimes also other vertebrates of small to medium size.
3. Orinoco crocodile (Crocodylus intermedius)
The Orinoco crocodile is found mostly in the Orinoco Basin of Colombia and Venezuela.
It is of large size with a pale tan color with dark brown markings scattered across its body. It’s relatively elongated snout notwithstanding; it preys successfully on large mammals, and many other vertebrates.
4. Freshwater crocodile (Crocodylus johnsoni)
The freshwater crocodile is most found in Northern Australia and lives in rivers far away from the sea to avoid a fight with saltwater crocodiles.
It is a smaller sized species with an elongated and narrow snout.
Its color is light brown with dark bands scattered over its body and tail and feeds primarily on fish and other vertebrates that are of small size.
5. Philippine crocodile (Crocodylus mindorensis)This species is mostly found in the Philippines and are relatively of small size with broader snout.
It dorsal armor is heavy and its color is golden-brown that gets darker as it matures.
Philippine crocodiles eat a wide range of vertebrates, from small to medium size, and have been flagged to being critically endangered, as well as being the most threatened of all the crocodile species.
6. Morelet’s crocodile (Crocodylus moreletii)These crocodiles are found mostly in the Atlantic regions of Guatemala, Mexico, and Belize.
It had a rather broad snout, and is a small to medium sized crocodile
Its habitat is mostly in the fresh water environment, and its food includes reptiles, birds, and mammals.
It is dark gray-brown in color.
7. Nile crocodile (Crocodylus niloticus)Nile crocodiles are found majorly in Sub-Saharan Africa.
They are of large size with a broad snout, particularly the older ones.
They have dark bronze color, which darkens as they get older.
The Nile crocodile lives in freshwater environment as well as in brackish water.
It is a super predator with the ability to attack and capture various vertebrates, and predators, including large ungulates.
8. New Guinea crocodile (Crocodylus novaeguineae)This species is found mainly in the island of New Guinea.
It is small sized species and has grey-brown color with dark brown to black markings on its tail.
Its habitat is both the freshwater and the saltwater environment, however, it usually chooses to live in freshwater to avoid being attacked and preyed on by saltwater crocodiles.
Its food includes small to medium sized vertebrates.
9. Mugger crocodile (Crocodylus palustris)This species is found mostly in the Indian subcontinent and surrounding countries.
It has alligator appearance with a very broad snout.
A modest sized crocodile, the mugger species is dark-grey to brown in color.
It lives in slow moving rivers, lakes, and swamps, as well as in coastal swamps. It stays away from areas occupied by saltwater crocodiles and eats various vertebrates.
10. Saltwater crocodile (Crocodylus porosus)Saltwater crocodiles are majorly seen across Northern Australia and Southeast Asia.
They are the most aggressive of all crocodiles and the largest known reptile.
They have a big head and a relatively broad snout, particularly in older ones.
They have pale yellow with black strips color at young age, which turns to dark greenish-drab when they become adult.
Saltwater crocodiles live in lower stretches of rivers, as well as in marine and brackish environments.
They are apex predators; they attack and prey on almost any animal within their surroundings.
11. Cuban crocodile (Crocodylus rhombifer)
This small, but extremely aggressive species of crocodile is found only in the Zapata Swamp of Cuba.
It has a vibrant color even as it gets older with its scales having a “pebbled” appearance.
It lives in freshwater swamps and also displays agile movement on land.
It feeds on small to medium sized vertebrates, and sometimes hunts larger preys when in a group.
12. Siamese crocodile (Crocodylus siamensis)This species of crocodile can be found in Brunei, Indonesia, Southern Indochina, and East Malaysia.
It is fairly small in size and is majorly seen in freshwater habitats.
Its coloration is olive-green to dark green, and its snout is relatively broad.
Small to medium sized vertebrates constitute its food.
13. West African crocodile (Crocodylus suchus)These crocodiles are found in Western and Central African regions.
They are much smaller than the Nile crocodile with a slightly narrower snout.
14. Dwarf crocodile (Osteolaemus tetraspis)Dwarf crocodiles are found in the tropical forests of Western Africa region and are the smallest of all crocodiles.
The adult has uniform black color while the young is light brown.
If feeds on large aquatic invertebrates and small vertebrates and shows considerable terrestrial activities as it is well capable of hunting on land, particularly in the night.